The clock is ticking for South Africa to join the global digital economy in earnest and fully industrialise its economy. In response to this urgency, Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS) is partnering with Naspers’ youth development programme, Naspers Labs, in a skills development and placement project which taps directly into the country’s future economic needs.
Over the next year, the partnership aims to empower and train over 350 youths with the skills to become specialists in niche, defined sectors where certified skills are currently in short supply. An additional 50 youth aged 16 -21 years will be supported through our youth accelerator programme to gain digital literacy amongst other skills that will enable them to be positioned to become a talent pipeline for 2022’s technical skills training.
In marking Africa Industrialisation Day last week, Afrika Tikkun Services highlights that partnerships such as the above are but one-way South Africa can realise its full economic potential by placing its youth at the pulse of the rapidly changing skills demands which align with the fourth industrial revolution. “The youth, who are the majority of the continent’s population, remain in the back seat when it comes to skills for an industrialised economy. Until we change this, Africa won’t be able to fully industrialise and reach its full economic potential,” says Afrika Tikkun Services CEO, Onyi Nwaneri.
As a result, despite its potential, South Africa may continue to rank lower and lower among Africa’s largest economies. “To get young people productive, active, motivated, and driven again, we need to shift how we tackle youth development and change how we have done things so far. We have demonstrated this attitude in the design of our undertaking with Naspers Labs,” says Nwaneri.
The overall purpose of the initiative is to expose young people to holistic demand driven skills development activities that facilitate growth and maturity in personal and professional decision making as well as career /technical skills/competencies.
The project determines in-demand job roles and sources placement opportunities within the digital economy using priority skills listed in the LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) priority skills/ Scarce and Critical Skills reports, Harambee’s recent report titled – MAPPING OF DIGITAL AND ICT ROLES AND DEMAND IN SOUTH AFRICA amongst others.
This information is overlaid on the learning content being offered and recruits are matched to learning paths that meet their interests, aptitude, personality and thinking style.
The first year of the project will see some 350 students trained to become desktop support technicians, Software Developers, Data Analysts, Cloud, Cybersecurity and AI (Artificial Intelligence) Specialists. “Current candidates in the programme are young people from previously disadvantaged racial demographics and who come from underprivileged backgrounds,” says Nwaneri.
Despite the overall economic downturn, businesses in the ICT, financial technology (FinTech) and financial services sector are thriving and expanding operations creating a demand for digital skills.
The job market now belongs to those skilled in such disciplines as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and data analysis. This skills demand occurs against the backdrop of a devastating skills shortage in South Africa resulting in dire employment prospects for the youth.According to the first Quarterly Labour Force Survey of 2021, young people are still struggling immensely to enter the job market. Of South Africa’s youth aged 15-24 years, 64% are unemployed. The number is equally less positive for young people aged 18 to 35 years.
In October this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa sounded the alarm on the risk posed by the gap between skills demand in the workplace and the state of South Africa’s youth skills pool. Correcting this discrepancy has to be a collective effort by all institutions affected by it and those with the power to make the change.
Afrika Tikkun Service’s vision aligns with that of the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020-2030). To help build a secured Digital Single Market in Africa by 2030, services and capital needs to ensure that individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and engage in online activities. But without the skills, investment and collective effort required, the vision cannot be realised.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed existing inequalities including basic digital literacy, access to ICT skills and resources. With Naspers Labs ICT expertise and Afrika Tikkun Services’ passion for youth development, we hope to awaken the potential of thousands of young people with this partnership in the long term,” concludes Nwaneri.